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This is a good introduction, by Justin Schieber, to JL Schellenberg’s argument:

YouTube video

Wiki includes the following:

Discussion of Schellenberg’s argument has made explicit a non-theological use of the term ‘hiddenness’, which is now commonly used simply as a way of talking about the subjective condition of nonbelief in God.[4] In his first presentation of the argument Schellenberg emphasized inculpable or reasonable nonbelief, but he has since shifted to speaking more specifically about nonresistant nonbelief.[5] The first presentation is often given by commentators as follows, based on Schellenberg’s own summing up:[6]

  1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.
  3. Reasonable nonbelief occurs.
  4. No perfectly loving God exists (from 2 and 3).
  5. Hence, there is no God (from 1 and 4).

Schellenberg has stated that this formulation is misleading, when taken on its own, because it does not make explicit the reason why a perfectly loving God would want to prevent nonbelief. His deepest claim, he says, is “about the connection between love and openness to relationship — a personal and positively meaningful and explicit sort of relationship of the sort that logically presupposes each party’s belief in the other’s existence.”[7] A later presentation of the argument by Schellenberg, which aims at accessibility for students, includes this element:[8]

  1. If no perfectly loving God exists, then God does not exist.
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, then there is a God who is always open to personal relationship with each human person.
  3. If there is a God who is always open to personal relationship with each human person, then no human person is ever non-resistantly unaware that God exists.
  4. If a perfectly loving God exists, then no human person is ever non-resistantly unaware that God exists (from 2 and 3).
  5. Some human persons are non-resistantly unaware that God exists.
  6. No perfectly loving God exists (from 4 and 5).
  7. God does not exist (from 1 and 6).

In an article revisiting the argument ten years after it was originally proposed,[9] Schellenberg observes that criticism has mainly centered around the idea that God would prevent inculpable nonbelief. He asserts that there are relatively few criticisms questioning the existence of inculpable nonbelief, and almost no theistic philosopher objects to the idea that God is perfectly loving.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...